While we hope people will join our boards for the pure joy of giving, the decision to be on a board is more complicated. Besides helping the nonprofit, most members hope to advance other goals. Do you give your board members to meet them? Do you, for instance, offer opportunities to work with community leaders? Do you help them build their brand? While serving, do they also have occasions to sharpen their skills? You can help your board meet their goals in numerous ways that, also help your nonprofit. For a dozen possibilities, read the ideas below.
1. Letterhead. Place their names on your letterhead to enhance your credibility and theirs.
2. Websites. Include their name and business association on your website.
3. Quotes. Ask for a statement, that is a brief testimonial, about why they support your nonprofit. Place their words on your website and in your newsletters. Offer to provide a recommendation for their use.
4. Videos. Ask for video testimonials–the same potential uses.
5. Blogs. Request that individuals write a guest piece about their experience as a board member for the nonprofit’s blog. What have they learned? What, for instance, as a board member is the most exciting aspect of your nonprofit’s work?
6. Newspapers. Request a member to write a letter to the editor about how your nonprofit solves a community need. Get both your names out in the public square.
7. In-house Publications. Adapt articles for board member’s in-house publications, such as their company newsletters, to use in your newsletters. For instance, ask them to write a blog or news article to focus on their experiences as a board member. How does it apply to their professional life? They begin, “As an accountant serving this nonprofit, I learned …” Again, provide them with statements about how their contributions are valued.
8. Presentation Add-on. Who gets more recognition at your events? Your sponsors or your board members. Who provides your nonprofit more value? Compare their gifts to the fees you charge for event sponsorship. With this in mind, consider how you might recognize your members more. For instance, you can script your presentations to include board members in other public meetings. Public recognition of their service will help your nonprofit recruit future members.
9. Use Meetings to Deepen Relationships. Design your board meetings so that your members engage in one-on-one conversations with other members. The discussions will deepen and foster long-term relationships. By growing trust, they also improve the quality of board decision-making.
10. Say Yes. Attend your member’s events. Here, publically thank your members for their work. You’ll improve their branding and increase your nonprofit’s visibility.
11. Recommend. Recommend them on LinkedIn and, when their term ends, provide a thank you letter they can use as a character reference.
12. Learn. Leaders are learners. One of the most valuable professional opportunities you can provide is for your board members to learn. The facts and experiences you offer will improve their leadership, your cause, group dynamics, and the community.
You ask board members to be your partners. As part of your partnership, be intentional about providing quality experiences in the boardroom that overflow into their professional lives. I’ve suggested a dozen opportunities. Pick two to start. You’ll be saying thank you with benefits.